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Adapting Research Student Training and Development to Integrate Personal Development and Wellbeing Support for Research Students

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard HetheringtonORCiD, Dr Gail de Blaquiere, Kate Aitchison, Michael AtkinsonORCiD, Dr Lucy Robinson, Rob Bedford, Dr Laura Leonardo, Laura Stevenson, Simon Cotterill


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Adapting Research Student Training and Development to Integrate Personal Development and Wellbeing Support for All Research Students. The HEFCE and Office for Students Catalyst funded research students’ wellbeing project allowed Newcastle University to instigate the #PGRwellbeing4all programme, which considered research students’ mental health and wellbeing, with a particular interest in the significance of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion on factors affecting wellbeing. The evidence collected indicated a strong need to be proactive in dealing with their wellbeing. It was also recognised that interventions to support students, may have a stigma attached if they are viewed as a therapeutic intervention. Some groups of students may be particularly reticent to seek help if this could be seen as a sign of weakness. There was also a clear recognition that research students have a unique set of circumstances that create issues that are very different from undergraduates. A key development from these findings was for the University Student Wellbeing Service to adapt their offering to include more specific workshops to support research students. Most critically these sessions were incorporated into the Faculty Research Student Development Programmes. This ensured there was no obvious division drawn between skills training, professional development and support for personal development and wellbeing. The Student Wellbeing Service sessions were complemented by a range of other activities and workshops to address research student needs. Included within this holistic approach were the extension of regular introductory mindfulness meditation sessions, to include an eight week programme of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and the development of a student led community for social activity. In addition, the School of Psychology conducted an exploratory research project to investigate how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) practices could be developed into workshops that support research students. These workshops are now also included in the Faculty development programmes. This session will explain how these developments have been put into place and preliminary findings on their implementation and success.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hetherington R, De Blaquiere G, Aitchison K, Atkinson M, Robinson L, Bedford R, Leonardo L, Stevenson L, Cotterill S

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: UKCGE Annual Conference 2021

Year of Conference: 2021

Online publication date: 28/06/2021

Acceptance date: 05/05/2021

Publisher: UKCGE